The Final Countdown: NA3HL Weekend Preview
March 11, 2016
It all comes down to this… the final weekend of the 2015-16 NA3HL regular season. While some divisions are set and playoff match-ups are known and scheduled, others will go down to the wire, perhaps to the very last day on Sunday.
It should provide for some great drama. Some unknowns that still remain out there include, who will be the overall NA3HL regular season champion? Who will win the Frontier, South and West Divisions? Who will actually make the playoffs in the Frontier Division? All that and more is set to be decided this weekend.
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In the Central Division, everything is set. Division Champion North Iowa will face Rochester in the first round of the playoffs, while La Crosse will host Wisconsin. While the Bulls are likely to capture the overall title needing just one win in their three home games against Chicago, Rochester will be at Wisconsin.
In the East, the playoff match-ups are also set with Metro hosting Wooster and Toledo hosting West Michigan. This weekend, Pittsburgh will play their final two games of the year by hosting the Wolves. Southern Tier does the same by hosting the Wolves on Friday. The big match-up is Metro and Wooster in a home-and-home series, which will also be a Semi-Final preview of next weekend.
While Yellowstone, Great Falls and Bozeman know they are in, they do not know who is champion yet. That will play out in the Yellowstone vs. Great Falls series this weekend. The other unknown is the great race for the 4th and final spot. Gillette has the inside track with a two-point lead, but face a tough test against playoff-bound Bozeman. Helena has a home-and-home series against Glacier. If both Gillette and Helena finish with the same number of points and wins, Helena owns the tie-breaker in head-to-head between the two teams.
With the four playoff-bound teams decided and St. Louis as the division winner, the only thing to be settled in the Midwest is who will be the #2 and #3 seeds. Peoria has the inside track and needs just one win or a Nashville loss to secure home ice. Peoria hosts St. Louis, while Nashville has a home-and-home series with Evansville.
In the South, it is sure to be a great battle in Point Mallard as the Ducks host the Capitals in the race for the South crown. The Ducks have a one-point lead over the Capitals. Also in the mix is Texas who finishes with three games against Louisiana. Three wins and a one regulation loss by both Point Mallard and Atlanta this weekend would give the Jr. Brahmas the title. 4th place Sugar Land hosts Euless for three games.
In the West, Friday night has a big match-up as 2nd place Twin City is at 1st place Granite City with just two points separating the teams. With two more wins, Granite City is in the driver’s seat, but the Steel still have an outside shot to capture the division. On Saturday and Sunday, Breezy Point, who needs just a single point or a loss by Alexandria to secure the #3 seed, will try and play spoiler to the Lumberjacks, while the Flying Aces look to do the same.
Outside the divisions, Cincinnati is at Toledo, while La Crosse is at Alexandria.
FRI, MAR 11 Chicago vs North Iowa
FRI, MAR 11 Rochester vs Wisconsin
SAT, MAR 12 Rochester vs Wisconsin
SAT, MAR 12 Chicago vs North Iowa
SUN, MAR 13 Chicago vs North Iowa
FRI, MAR 11 West Michigan vs Southern Tier
FRI, MAR 11 Metro vs Wooster
SAT, MAR 12 West Michigan vs Pittsburgh
SAT, MAR 12 Wooster vs Metro
SUN, MAR 13 West Michigan vs Pittsburgh
FRI, MAR 11 Bozeman vs Gillette
FRI, MAR 11 Glacier vs Helena
FRI, MAR 11 Yellowstone vs Great Falls
SAT, MAR 12 Bozeman vs Gillette
SAT, MAR 12 Helena vs Glacier
SAT, MAR 12 Yellowstone vs Great Falls
FRI, MAR 11 Evansville vs Nashville
SAT, MAR 12 St. Louis vs Peoria
SAT, MAR 12 Nashville vs Evansville
SUN, MAR 13 St. Louis vs Peoria
FRI, MAR 11 Texas vs Louisiana
FRI, MAR 11 Euless vs Sugar Land
SAT, MAR 12 Texas vs Louisiana
SAT, MAR 12 Atlanta vs Point Mallard
SAT, MAR 12 Euless vs Sugar Land
SUN, MAR 13 Texas vs Louisiana
SUN, MAR 13 Euless vs Sugar Land
SUN, MAR 13 Atlanta vs Point Mallard
FRI, MAR 11 Breezy Point vs Minnesota
FRI, MAR 11 Twin City vs Granite City
SAT, MAR 12 Twin City vs Minnesota
SAT, MAR 12 Granite City vs Breezy Point
SUN, MAR 13 Alexandria vs Minnesota
SUN, MAR 13 Breezy Point vs Granite City
Out of Division
FRI, MAR 11 Cincinnati vs Toledo
FRI, MAR 11 La Crosse vs Alexandria
SAT, MAR 12 Cincinnati vs Toledo
SAT, MAR 12 La Crosse vs Alexandria